Leonardo Helicopters has set up an initial production capability in Yeovil, southwest England for the AW149 to support its bid for the UK’s Puma replacement programme.
Announced at July’s Farnborough air show, the establishment of the AW149 line – including investment in jigs, tooling and ground-support equipment – is designed to de-risk production of the super-medium-twin in Yeovil should it be selected for the UK’s ongoing New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement.
Service entry for the NMH is pegged for 2025 under timelines released by the UK Ministry of Defence.
Leonardo Helicopters says it will build AW149s in Yeovil for the UK, and the export market, if it secures the NMH contract.
Staff from Yeovil have also been seconded to the current AW149 production line in Vergiate, Italy to support the UK assembly initiative.
Launched earlier this year, the NMH programme seeks to acquire up to 44 rotorcraft to replace the Royal Air Force’s 23-strong fleet of Puma transport helicopters, plus three other types in the UK’s inventory.